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Florida Keys Tourist Tips


The stuff that wasn't in the brochures.......


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If you come to the Keys & don't get out on the water

You lose.....


try a charter or boat rentals for fishing, sunset cruises, snorkeling, diving or eco-tours, it's the best part of the Keys


 


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The Florida Keys is a terrific place  for tourists, we really prefer you stay wherever you are and just send money, but if you are bound and determined to visit, here are a few tips and comments to make your stay more enjoyable......

Traffic
Ohhhh, not our best asset. With only one highway thru the whole 100+ mile length, things get congested. We could do a couple of pages on this, but here's the big points.
 Snake Creek   The local motto is: "What the hell, you're down here anyway, just relax and enjoy the view". As many bridges as we have in the Keys, only one opens - (Snake Creek (shown) in N Islamorada) but only then when you are approaching. Holiday Isle just down the road from the Snake Creek bridge is another back-up during peak holidays. It's pretty much clear sailing after that until  you get to Big Pine Key just south of the 7 Mile Bridge, then look out.  The local "Key Deer" population slows traffic to 35 mph at night, and while the big road construction project is now completed, they have a flea market open on weekends that can slow things down. Actually, If there is a lot of traffic such as a busy weekend or any other excuse, traffic backs up at Big Pine - it's horrible. If you are driving down here, Florida City is a real rip on prices, don't think you'll save money by stopping there before you get to the Keys.  A bad accident can tie up traffic for hours- when that happens, hang a u-turn and find a bar/restaurant and settle in.
   Weekend holiday traffic on can be a real bear, try to come down early and stay late to avoid the brunt of this. Our latest traffic statistics are bad - too many fatalities on a crowded highway, so don't drive drunk or try to pass to often, it can be deadly.

Crime
Not a lot, geography and consistent police patrolling helps here, however, if you want to lose your camera or purse, leave it out on the front seat of your parked car. Other than that, crime is very, very low - not much of a problem.

Restaurants
Scads of 'em from one end to the other, most are pretty good - they take food & drinking seriously around here. Casual Keys ambiance is flip-fops and hopefully a cover-up in most places. The food is surprisingly good, you can't miss with the seafood specialties.  Usually have a great view of the ocean or bay as well. Service can be spotty as help is hard to keep and hold because of expensive living conditions, but you can live with it.

Did you get a whiff?
Officially, when you catch a whiff of what smells like sewer gas here and there around the Keys, it's the gas given off from decaying sea grass on the shorelines. Unofficially, they do monitor the beaches for contamination on a regular basis for your safety.

Nightlife -Wild n' Crazy
We admit it, our idea of a really good time is sitting at Sloppy Joe's 'till we fall off the barstool. Don't miss Pete and Wayne at Sloppy's  if they are in town - raunchy but hilarious. Key West has pretty much a lock on the entertainment and wild times department, although Holiday Isle does a great job (especially the sand bar - only accessible by boat). The rest of the Keys tries hard, but a really wild and good time is a matter of luck rather than design. Remember, drinking and driving down here is a big no-no; and with one road - you will get nailed.

Nightlife-Other
Just about every bar sells food and has entertainment and some feature a "sunset view" on the water . You can do the tourist sunset at Mallory Pier in Key West at sunset with all the other sunburn victims, or you can partake of le cocktail in comfort at the top of the Holiday Inn on Duval.

Our top  Bars:
not necessarily in order

Rumrunners
Islamorada @ N end of Holiday Isle, Best late Fri afternoons or holidays. Great ambiance.
Wild Animal Bar
Not real exciting, but is different from every other bar in the Keys, AKA the Safari Lounge, S end of Islamorada
Burdines
South end of Marathon - best fries in the world, good food, drink and best prices you will find.
Sloppy Joes
If you are in Key West, you go thru here. It's the law. If you're a tourist, tell the local at the bar that Capt Tony's is giving away free beer - you'll get a seat. If you're a local, tell the tourist that Key West Aloe is giving away free sunburn ointment samples - you'll get a seat.
Island Tiki Bar
N end of Marathon is pretty much what a Tiki bar should be, killer wings plates & good view. Got wiped out by Hurricane Wilma and still may be under reconstruction.
Schooner Wharf Bar
Key West, along the waterfront at the downtown docks. Nights here can be really wild.

Big problem getting a consensus on the next ones-we're working on it.....